Weekend Update

5 06 2017

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

This past Friday evening started off pretty much the same as the prior one.  I was back walleye fishing in my usual spot at 9:30 pm.  Conditions were pretty good, partly cloudy skies with a slight NW breeze.  Boat traffic was a little higher than normal and in about 30 minutes I was about to find out why.  No matter though, I got set up and started my usual routine for night fishing when the other fish are in.  About 5 minutes in I had my first fish on and it turned out to be a 23 inch male walleye.  That was soon followed up by a second 21 inch male.  I was beginning to think that maybe the other fish had left.  That things would get back to normal.  That I wouldn’t have to constantly be pulling lines in to remove unwanted accidental catches.  I was wrong.

1,2,3,5,6,7,8,9,11,12,13,14,15,16…..

Around 10 pm I sensed a flash of light behind me and then a resounding boom.  Grosse Isle was shooting off fireworks, thus the reason for the increased boat traffic.  Shortly after the start of the show I picked up a third walleye and it would turn out to be my last one for the night.  Once the show was over all the boats headed for the docks and after that it was nothing but the other fish for the next few hours.  My last fish of the night turned out to be a white perch that had a brush with a muskie.  When I flipped it in the boat it had teeth marks across both sides.  Lucky little bugger.

 

Hope I never lose that Blue & White PP. It’s the only one I have.

 

Saturday, June 3rd, 2017

Chores.  I did find another Blue & White Pencil Plug while I was cleaning out the garage.  Day wasn’t a total waste of time after all.

 

Sunday, June 4th, 2017

Sunday started off with me attending Demo Days at Schultz’s Outfitter’s.  This is an annual event full of fly fishing, tying classes and demonstrations.  I signed up for the Micro Spey – Trout and Smallmouth class presented by Tom Larimer.  When spey fishing first arrived in Michigan it was all about Steelhead.  Lately though there has been an interest in scaling things down for the resident Brown & Rainbow Trout and Smallmouth bass.  Tom has been heavily involved with this, working with both G. Loomis in developing fly rods specifically for this and lines from Airflo to go with them.  Since I enjoy spey casting so much I wanted to learn how to incorporate what I have learned so far into catching the aforementioned species.  Class started off indoors at first with discussion about presentation, reading water and fly selection.  After that we wadered up and were standing in the water casting.  Tom brought along two prototype rods from G. Loomis and worked with each of us on our spey casting.  I like to think that I am getting better but after watching Tom I quickly realized I have a long way to go.  He did point out a couple of small items that I need to work on.  A couple of the finer points of setting “the anchor” that when done properly make a huge difference.  When I don’t do it things get ugly.  Just like anything else that is new I need to practice more.  I figure I’ll go down to the river a few times a week with my spey and switch rods and do just that.

Later that evening I grabbed my 5wt fly rod and headed to Washago Pond in Willow Metropark to play around with the bluegills.  Susan and I used to go to the park about once a month in the Spring and Summer.  She would read and take pictures while I fished.  Afterwards we would drive around and look at the deer or whatever other critter might be out and about.  Now it’s just me and the fish.  When I arrived around 8:00 pm it was dead calm and no sign of any surface activity.  Usually the swallows are skimming the surface trying to pick off newly hatched bugs, not tonight.  Undeterred from the lack activity I walked over to the edge of the pond, tied on a #14 Elk Hair Caddis dry fly and went at it.  The fly wasn’t on the surface for a second when the first bull gill smacked it.  About a minute later he was in hand.

The first of about 2 dozen.

This continued on for the next hour.  Every other cast resulted in another nice gill.  Eventually my dry fly started to turn into an emerger/sub surface fly and then a slow sinking fly.  I could of changed flies but it was still working so I didn’t bother.  The last few caught were strip sets.  I would see a subtle swirl where I thought my fly was and once I gave a tug I could feel the weight.  I must admit though, I tied that fly right.  It never fell apart, even after being almost swallowed by most of the fish.  Around 9:00 pm fishing started to slow down so after one more fish I packed it up and went home.  My elbows and wrists were getting sore from all the fly casting today anyways.  I can always come back.

In the immortal words of Porky Pig….”That’s All Folks“.

 

Afterwards I drove around the park to watch the deer, just like Susan and I used to do.  There were about a dozen of them out, most with their summer cinnamon tan already.  No fawns yet, they are probably hunkered down somewhere safe from the resident coyotes.

Perfect way to end the weekend.

 

 

 

 





Washago Pond 7/3/15

3 07 2015

Originally I had planned on going walleye fishing tonight but after getting a report from a friend about bad weeds and lots of big boat traffic I decided to stay on dry land.  I was just going to go for a walk tonight and meet all my Fitbit goals but somewhere along the way I ended up at Washago Pond.  I expected a lot of people to be here with it being July 4th weekend but the park was surprisingly empty.  I rigged up my 5wt with a foam hopper and my 7wt with a Zudbubbler and headed towards the water.  The pond was like glass and there were a few fish surfacing.  I let my little purple foam hopper fly and spent the next 30 minutes just watching it sit on the water without so much as one hook up.  The fish were hitting it but they just kept missing the hook.  I decided to switch back to my trout flies thinking that maybe with these flies lying in the surface film that maybe these cross eyed fish might actually grab the whole fly and not miss it repeatedly.  So I tied on a #14 cream no hackle fly and let her rip.  That did the trick.  Now they were getting hooked up and I was starting to have some fun.  They weren’t big fish but they were big enough to be a lot of fun on the 9 foot 5wt.  I should have brought a bucket.  I ended up with about a dozen of them  Enough for a nice dinner for Susan and I.  There will be other opportunities I’m sure.

These fish would be a riot if they got up to a couple of pounds.

These fish would be a riot if they got up to a couple of pounds.

 





Washago Pond Hog Tied Bluegill

12 09 2014

Went back to Washago pond the other night to just play around for a bit.  Action was pretty slow with only a few smaller fish caught.  I did see some decent surface action farther out on the pond then I could cast.  I’ll have to bring my waders along next time and see if that helps.  Only thing of interest was the way I caught this one bluegill.  Somehow I was able to wrap the leader around his tail when I set the hook.  He was basically hog tied and I brought him in backwards.  I haven’t done this to a fish since my salmon tight lining days on the beaches of Harrisville.  He was released none the worse for wear to fight another day.   

If you look closely you can see the leader going from his mouth and around his tail

If you look closely you can see the leader going from his mouth and around his tail





7/19/14 All Day Fishing

20 07 2014

Actually it started Friday night.  My friends Dean and Barry convinced their mother that she needed a summer home on Sanford lake.  Since then they have been spending a fair amount of time trying to find the fish on the lake.  Lately they have been doing well on the crappie and I wanted to get in on that.  I packed the car and after work on Friday I headed north.  I arrived at Barry’s and he informed me we had to run to his Mom’s house that night.  No problem, start fishing early.  We fished from the dock and managed to get a couple of crappie and some bluegills.  So far so good.

During the night Dean arrived and after a quick stop for some minnows we were on the boat to try a few spots.  Our plan was to target structure around the lake, mainly fallen trees and stumps.  It was pretty hit and miss at first, couple here, couple there, nothing to get excited about.  At one stop we tried by the M-10 bridge going over the lake.  No crappie but there were dozens of bluegills hanging around the pilings.  They weren’t big but this was a perfect chance for me to try my new 4wt Echo fly rod.  I tied on an a little emerger pattern and let it fly.  It’s hard to cast from a pontoon boat, especially with 3 people on board.  To make matters worse I was trying to cast under a bridge.  I managed to get the fly in there and catch a few.  Even though the fish were small they were a lot of fun on that light rod.  I think I am going to really like fishing with it. I just need more practice.  We didn’t stick around too long.  Dean wanted to go to an antique flea market so we headed back to the dock.  After a quick lunch Barry and I were back out again.  We went back to a blow down in one of the canals that we couldn’t fish earlier because someone else was already was.  The wind had started to pick up a bit so we anchored the boat upwind and drifted in to the area.  We were able to let our baits drift right into the limbs of the tree that were underwater.  It didn’t take long and soon we were catching crappie left and right.  Unfortunately the vast majority of them were around 6 inches long.  This went on for about an hour until we ran out of minnows.  We tried worms for a bit but it was obvious the crappie wanted minnows.  We pulled anchor and headed home so we could get more.  By now Dean was back and he was headed with us, after we sent him to the bait shop to get more minnows of course.  About an hour later we were headed back only to find another boat fishing there.  He was set up on the other side of the tree and I have to admit, he was one dedicated fisherman (more on that later).  We anchored away from him and were back to drifting minnows back into the tree limbs.  Only problem was that the wind had died down so know we were casting into them.  We still managed to catch fish but no at the pace we were earlier.  We stuck to it though for a couple of hours and managed to put a few in the live well.  By now it was 5:00 pm and time for me to head home.  I wanted to go walleye fishing tonight and I had a 2 hour drive ahead of me and a bunch of fish to clean.  I said my good-bye’s and was soon heading home.

After I got the fish cleaned I hooked my boat up and was headed to Elizabeth Park.  It was after 9 now and getting dark.  Not a problem since the water has been so clear and with no cloud cover nothing was going to happen until after dark anyways.  I started fishing just before 10:00 pm running Rapala’s and Pencil plugs.  The weeds were a bit of a problem but not as bad as I thought they might be with no wind.  Bugs weren’t too bad either.  I kept swapping out colors and sizes for the next few hours trying to find something they like.  I managed to get one walleye on a Chartreuse and Chrome Nite Stalker and another on an Orange and Black wooden PP.  As the night wore on the weeds steadily got worse and worse.  There must have been a mayfly hatch upstream as well because I was spotting hundreds of casings all over the river.  This was starting to get old so shortly after midnight I just gave up and headed home.  I had been fishing all day and I was tired.  I had a lot of chores to do tomorrow so sleep was a better option than dodging the ever increasing weed patches.  I’m not going to complain.  I got a few walleye and a fair number of crappie for the freezer.  Sounds like a good day to me.

Side Note:  Ok, I have always thought that I am a pretty devoted fisherman.  I have been known to ignore a lot of things in order to catch fish and I get so focused on fish that I block out everything else around me.  Earlier today I met someone who is more dedicated than I am.  As I said earlier there was another fisherman at one of our spots.  Well he wasn’t alone.  He had his girlfriend/wife along and she was sunbathing in the boat with him.  She was wearing a red, white blue bikini and was laying spread eagle in front of him in the boat.  He sat there the whole time fishing while she was laying in front of him and he wasn’t catching anything yet he kept trying.  That’s Dedication!!!

walleye

This guy appeared while I was cleaning fish.  He was alive and I have no idea where he came from.

This guy appeared while I was cleaning fish. He was alive and I have no idea where he came from.

Sanford Lake Crappie





Washago Pond 6/14/14

15 06 2014

Nothing quite like an impromptu fishing trip.  Originally I was supposed to be busy all day and into the evening Saturday night.  My son was up from Florida and my parents were down to visit.  Everyone was getting together Saturday to visit Jacob, celebrate birthday’s and Father’s day.  When I went to go check Jacob in for his flight home and print his boarding pass there was a notice that his flight had been moved up by almost 3 hours.  That changed things a bit.  We still all got together but after I dropped him off at the airport everyone had left.  Suddenly I had my evening to myself.  After Susan and I finished cleaning up the house I asked her if she wanted to go read her book down at Willow Metropark and she agreed.  A few minutes later we were on our way.

When we arrived there was a fair amount of feeding activity on the surface.  I tied on one of the many foam flies I had tied up over the winter and let it fly.  Again the bluegill didn’t want anything to do with it.  I’m beginning to wonder if I used to heavy of a hook for these flies.  While I was busy trashing the water with my line I was able to see what the gills were feeding on, a small white caddis.  I dug out my trout fly box and of course I didn’t have anything like that.  I did have some size 14 cream colored parachute patterns so I tried one of those.  That did the trick.  Fishing wasn’t fast and furious but I managed to catch a few.  They weren’t monsters either but at least I didn’t get skunked and I got to spend some much needed time on the water.

First bass on a fly in two coon's ages.

First bass on a fly in two coon’s ages.

This is embarrassing.  I stopped after this one.

This is embarrassing. I stopped after this one.





A Year in a Life – May

14 05 2014

May is a very fickle month for a die hard river rat. By now the water temps are up in the 45 to 50 degree range and the big girls are out of the river. The males are in feeding mode now and that means easy limits. Problem is that it doesn’t seem to last very long anymore. Back in the 80’s it was a given that the walleye fishing would be fantastic until mid month. It still can be now but we have to deal with something else. That’s right; my favorite’s…….the White Bass.

For the last 5 or 6 years it seems like this run has lasted longer than the previous year and produced more and more fish each time it happens. There has always been a healthy population but now it seems like they completely take over the entire river system. Some people can’t wait for them to show up. I’m not one of them. The DNR could take away the possession limit and it wouldn’t bother me one bit. Like death and taxes though they are a constant annoyance and they have to be dealt with. Walleye can be caught though during these trying times, the tactics just have to change.

There are a couple of options I have to avoid the White Bass. Though they are not entirely fool proof they can at times drastically reduce my catch and still put walleye in the boat. The first one is to change presentations. This time of year I will jig more than any other. I use a ¾ ounce jig and a Wyandotte Worm and I will jig the channel edges north of the Grosse Isle free bridge. I will still catch White Bass but I will also catch the occasional walleye. It won’t be a lot of them but I can usually manage to put a couple in the cooler until it gets dark. Once it gets dark I put the rod away and head back downstream. Now some may ask why I don’t just stay where I am. Well the reason is that I hate catching White Bass in deep water Handlining, especially 3, 4 or 5 at a time. It’s bad enough in 10 feet of water but 30 feet down gets old in a hurry. Some nights it’s not a problem, usually dark, cloudy no moon periods. Other times though they will feed all night. I never know what they are going to do so I limit my exposure and hassles as much as possible. Besides, I really enjoy fishing that 10 to 15 feet of water in The Channel. Again, there are walleye all up and down the river, it’s just a question of fishing where someone is most comfortable.

Once it is well past sunset I will set up in my usual areas and run the same leads with one change. The Rapala’s stay in the box and out come the pencil plugs, or more specifically Nite Stalkers. A Nite Stalker is nothing more than a plastic pencil plug. For years pp’s (pencil plugs) were made by hand and out of wood. Nothing wrong with them and there are plenty of them in handliner tackle boxes. I just like the Nite Stalkers (I wonder how many more shameless plugs I can get it in?) because they are plastic, they have great color patterns and most importantly the eye on the front is forward enough that I can use the same crank bait snaps I use for other body baits and spoons. The old wooden pencil plugs have the eye set so far back in the cup of the head that I can’t get the snap on. I don’t like fighting with lures when I should be fishing so I just stick to the Nite Stalkers (4). Besides, they come in a lot of chrome patterns and I like chrome. Also, Nite Stalkers (5) are made right here locally in Michigan and I’m all for supporting the local businesses.

Now on most nights a White Bass won’t bother with a pp, they don’t have a lot of action so they won’t trigger a lot of strikes. There are those nights when it just doesn’t matter, usually during the very peak of the run. There are ways around that as well but I will discuss that later. I will still get a few but no where near the 100 or so I would catch if I was using a Rapala. That’s not an exaggeration either, a handliner could very easily catch 100 or more in an evening during the run when using Rapala’s or spoons. Over the years I have kept track and I average about 2 or 3 white bass for every walleye caught using Nite Stalkers (6) or pp’s. If I was running Rapala’s or Spoons the number would increase 10 fold. Fortunately for me I live so close that if I get one of those nights where they just won’t stop I can always go in and try another day. I feel sorry for those that have to make the long drive. They are pretty much stuck and just have to deal with it.

One more thing about Nite Stalkers (7) and I promise I will quit. They have big sharp hooks and a lot of them. I don’t lose too many walleye when I am using them. They don’t dive as much as a Rapala either so I don’t tend to get hung up as much. Also, Nite Stalkers (8) are almost half the price of a New Rapala.

Now one of my other tactic changes is that I fish a lot later at night. The run coincides with each passing day getting longer so I have to start later. Because of this most of my fishing is reserved for Friday and Saturday night since I don’t have to work the next day. Since I don’t have to worry about getting up the next morning that opens up another opportunity, fishing farther north……the St. Clair River.

The St. Clair River poses some new challenges, they aren’t too difficult but they have to be taken into consideration. The first is the drive. Depending on where I go it can be 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours. That may not seem like much but when it’s past midnight and I am driving home the extra time starts to be a grind. Another thing to consider is that the St. Clair is deeper and the current is faster than the Trenton Channel. Water depths average over 30 feet and with the current I have to use a 2 pound weight. Just think about bouncing that weight along the bottom for a few hours. It can make for a long night, especially if I’m not catching anything. There is a trade off though, the White Bass are non-existent. Now that I have typed this I’m sure they will show up but I have yet to catch one up there. I can use Nite Stalker’s (9, sorry) here as well but with no threat of White Bass I usually run my Rapala’s. Another good point about fishing up this way is that the size limit is only 13 inches and the daily possession limit is 6. Kind of makes that extra drive a little more worthwhile. Now that the DNR have changed the possession limit to 3 days I am planning a weekend trip up to Algonac. Stay at the Algonac State Park, fish Friday and Saturday night, sleep in, and have a fish fry Saturday before I head out.

The last tactic to avoid catching them is to just not even fish for them to begin with. Between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day I tend to break out the fly rod. Bluegill and Trout are always a lot of fun on a 4 or 5 weight rod. With the brutal winter we had I spent a lot of time filling up the fly box both with traditional trout flies and foam patterns. I should be all set. I’ll probably go visit a local pond this Memorial Day weekend. I could go for a fresh bluegill dinner.

So there it is my White Bass avoidance tactics or my Year in a Life strategy for May. Of course this same strategy will carry over into June and maybe even July if they don’t leave.





A year in a life – March

5 03 2014

This is it, the month I have been waiting for.  All my preparations are finally going to come into play.  The all out assault can begin.  Oh wait, that was last year.

Fast forward to 2014 and the never ending winter.  This one has been so bad that I can’t even tell my kids that I used to have winters like this all the time when I was their age.  Not anymore.  The last time we received this much snow was during the winter of 1880/81.  That’s right, over 130 years ago.  To top it all off the Great Lakes are nearing 100% ice cover.  This has never happened in my lifetime and probably never will again.  The latest 10 day forecast shows a couple of days just above freezing but the nights will still be in the teens and 20’s.  All this means is that I won’t even get the boat in the water until the end of April.  I’m beginning to wonder if the lakes in northern michigan will be ice free by the trout/walleye/pike/muskie opener on April 26th.

Once things do break up I will be in full attack mode.  That means fishing new areas and using techniques I don’t normally use.  Normally handlining doesn’t start to heat up until the surface temps get above 40 degrees.  That could be the beginning of May at this rate.  In the mean time I may have to do some jigging to put some fresh fish in the freezer.  Early on it is more snagging than actually jigging but the alternative is doing nothing.

Once temps creep into the right zone than it will be a steady dose of Rapala’s in various sizes and colors until those other things show up.  Then it will be Pencil Plugs at night and weekend trips to the St. Clair river.  I might even throw in a early trip to Sanilac, Lexington or Oscoda to see if I can catch any Atlantic Salmon.  If not it will be a full court press on the walleye.  This summer will be that same thing.  Come July my weekend excursions will be lots of trips to Amherstburg to pull wire when the weeds and wind cooperate.  If not then it will be Bottom Bouncers or jigging in the same area.  The fish are there all summer it’s just a matter of getting the right presentation to make them hit.  Normally all I will do is pull wire but when the weeds are bad it will be Bottom Bouncers or jigs.  It’s a lot easier to deal with the floating weeds moving with them instead of against them.

Hopefully I will be able to use some of my owed favors for a trip or two on Lake Erie.  I usually make one trip a year but the last few have proven to be very daunting.  Engine problems, rough water, horrendous weed conditions and a lack of fish have made the trips more trouble than they are worth.  I know some people say it’s just good to be on the water but I won’t say that.  Getting bounced around a boat while constantly clearing lines for weeds while catching dinky white perch is not my idea of a good time.  I’ll stay home and go to Plan B.

I’m starting to feel like those people on Alaska The Last Frontier.  Got to fill the freezer before winter sets in.  Winter isn’t even over and already I am planning on how to fill the freezer.  I never realized just how much I miss having fresh fish.  I pulled some walleye out the other night and part of it was freezer burned.  I still ate it but it wasn’t quite as good as what I am used too.  I may have to start keeping a few steelhead, salmon and bluegills to help stretch out the fish diet.

Oh well, it will start soon enough.  As for now I will still plot, plan, scheme, dream, swear, complain, beg, pray and anything else I can think of until I finally hit the water.